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What can I expect during my appointment with a prenatal genetic counselor?

If you are pregnant and have unanswered questions about origins of diseases or traits in your family, you should consider genetic counseling. You may find genetic counseling valuable if:
  • You have, or are concerned you might have, an inherited disorder or birth defect
  • You are 35 or older and are pregnant or planning to be pregnant
  • You already have a child with mental retardation, an inherited disorder or a birth defect
  • You already have a child with a genetic disease diagnosed by routine newborn screening
  • You have had babies who died in infancy or had three or more miscarriages
  • You and your family are concerned that your jobs, lifestyles or medical history poses a risk to the outcome of your pregnancy. Common causes of concern include exposure to radiation, medications, illegal drugs, chemicals or infections.
  • You and your family would like testing or more information about genetic conditions that occur frequently in your ethnic group(s)
  • You are having a child with a first cousin or other close blood relative
  • You have had ultrasound examinations or blood testing that indicates that your pregnancy may be at increased risk for certain complications or birth defects
Evaluation of test results is usually coordinated between the genetic counselor, you and your doctor. In some cases a genetic counselor will provide information to help you make decisions. Depending on your test results, your genetic counselor or your doctor can refer you to resources in your community that deal with a specific genetic condition or to medical specialists, educational specialists or family support groups.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.